Goldfrapp – We Radiate
Vampire Weekend – Cousins
New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle
Claps – Red Dress
White Stripes – Fell In Love With A Girl
Blitzen Traper – God & Suicide
The Paper Raincoat – Sympathetic Vibrations
Death Cab For Cutie – Little Bribes
Budos Band – Unbroken Unshaven
Bat for Lashes – Sleep Alone (909s in the Darktimes mix)
Chromeo – Tenderoni
Sublime – Scarlet Begonias
School of Seven Bells – Windstorm
The Donnas – Take It Off (forHot Donna)
Jenny & Johnny – Big Wave
The Corin Tucker Band – 1,000 Years
Sleater-Kinney – What’s Mine Is Yours
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while…in fact, it’s been sitting in my draft file, half finished, for more than a year, I think. I’ve been on a mad blogging tear lately, so here goes.
When I was a young lad, record albums were on their way out but CDs hadn’t yet gained wide acceptance. The 1980s and early 1990s were the time of the cassette. They were less expensive than records, smaller than records and could be played on the go.
In the 1980s film Say Anything John Cusack used a cassette (and Peter Gabriel) to say what he couldn’t.
The cassette tape’s lasting and most important contribution to western culture, however, isn’t portable music – it’s the mix tape. The mix tape is why the cassette is iconic. Despite popular belief, making a mix tape is not simply putting music you like onto a cassette tape. You shouldn’t even do that if you’re making a mix tape for yourself. There were rules…not hard and fast rules, mind you. I mean, they could be broken in rare cases but it was best to stick to them, fundamentally, unless you had a very good reason to break them.
Making a mix tape was significantly more difficult and more time consuming than simply pointing and clicking in your iTunes to create a playlist, then burning that playlist to CD. You had to think about who you were making the mix tape for, what the purpose of the mix tape was, what kind of mood you wanted them to be in while they listened to it and what the end result was. Were you making this for a friend? Someone you wanted to be more than a friend? Were you trying to make someone who was sad, happy?
The most important thing is that the mix tape start off strong. The opening track must encompass the main feeling or statement of the tape. This is a rule you can never break, for any reason. Your goal is to simultaneously let the person you made it for know exactly why you made them the tape and get them hooked in one song. This can be especially difficult if you have very different musical tastes from the person for whom you made the tape and/or you’re making it for someone you want to date but you don’t want them to know you want to date them. If you don’t hook them with the first song, or you send too strong a message, they may not listen to the entire tape, which would mean they would miss the more subtle clues and hidden gems buried deep within the tape.
Much like the spice inDune,the songs must flow. You can’t really have something Metallica flowing into Jewel, the songs sort of have to go together. The end of one song and the beginning of the next song sort of have to have a similar sound and tempo. They need to have a bond, like a water molecule. (Well, okay, maybe they don’t need acovalent bond,but they need to be in some small way linked, otherwise the spell of the mix tape will be broken.)
Also remember that cassettes have two sides and so you need to make sure that the song which ends side 1 flows into the song that starts side 2, but that side 2s initial song can stand alone. Also remember that it is never acceptable to end the side of a tape in the middle of a song. When I had that happen, I’d go back and tape over the song, then start side 2 with it, if the song was an appropriate way to start side 2. Songs should never be cut off part of the way through.
If you’ve kicked your mix tape off with a killer track and the flow and order are done correctly, the tape should take on an almost mythical quality. It may take several iterations to reach this rare space. For example, a mix tape I still listen to took two tries for my friend to get it right. And it was a collaboration of sorts. It started out as our crusing tape. In the first iteration my friend Jared made, it was an okay tape. It provided excellent audio accompaniment for our nights spent driving around dark country roads (again, at the time I lived in rural Missouri…there wasn’t much to do.) We, my friends and I provided some feedback for it, however it was ultimately Jared’s call what would be added and subtracted, what would be substituted and how it would be changed.
The second version of The Tape, as it was known, which he sent to me after I moved away, nailed everything a mix tape has the potential to be. It flowed perfectly, it contained a mix of tracks from different genres that somehow all fit together and it captured a specific time and place. It isn’t just music, it’s a time machine. Hearing that tape transports me back to those times, with those friends and I can relive them, in a way.
Not to mention the cover are, which Jared (I assume) spent a great deal of time creating in Adobe Pagemaker in our high school shop class. There are many iconic images from our youth represented on the cover but, and this is a very important yet often over looked addition, there are liner notes. Not just a list of the tracks included on the mix tape but a paragraph or two about each song and why it was/is important to us. Would The Tape be a great mix tape without the liner notes? Yes. But it’s so much better with them and there are things in the liner notes I might have otherwise forgotten (“dinosaur noises” during In A Gada Da Vida, for example) and that makes the entire experience so much better.
That’s all I’ve got for right now, later I plan on evaluating a few mix tapes I’ve been given and a few I’ve made in part ii, so stay tuned.
Inspired by All Songs Considered’sTunes That Got You Through Your Teenspodcast, I started thinking about the music that inspired me as a teenager and changed my life. There were many albums (The Clash’s London Calling, The Smiths’ Hatful of Hollow, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet among many others) that changed my life. I mean, let’s be honest here, I was listening mostly to cock rock and gangsta rap until I heard Nirvana’s“Smells Like Teen Spirit”and it completely destroyed and reformed my taste in music in an instant.
But that wasn’t the most important song of my teenage years. Nirvana may have blown the door open, but it wasRancidthat stepped through the gaping hole Nirvana left three years later.
I remember it quite distinctly. I was 14, in the basement of my parents’ house with a bunch of friends watching Mtv late at night (back when they still played music videos) and Green Day’sLongviewcame on. After which, one of my friends remarked, “That’s so punk,” and a heated discussion began as to whether Green Day orThe Offspringwere “more punk.”
Having been inspired by Nirvana, who, I had read, had “punk” influences, I had started listening to punk rock such as Black Flag, The Clash, The Sex Pistols and The Ramones. (Actually, I had been listening to the Ramones for years but didn’t know that they were “punk.”) After a while I grew tired of hearing my friends bicker, especially when they didn’t have the “classical punk background” I foolishly assumed, in the way only an arrogant 14 year old can, that I had. “Neither of them are punk,” I said with an air of punk rock pretention, “They’re pop-punk, maybe, but not ‘punk’ in the truest sense of the word.” My friends sort of looked at me, blankly for a second, then, devolved back into their argument.
It was at this point that whatever video was playing ended and, as if on cue, Rancid’s Salvation began playing. “Shut the fuck up, you fuckers” I said…or something like that…”You need to fucking watch this.” And they did. Silently. And after the video ended I said, “That’s what real punk rock looks like. That’s what real punk rock sounds like.” Even though I had never heard of Rancid before, they were my favorite band at that point and I boughtLet’s Goas soon as I could. (It took a while, given that I lived in rural Missouri and the internet hadn’t really come into mainstream use yet…this meant I had to physically find a copy to purchase. I was eventually able to find a mail order catalog from which I could order the album.)
This is a song that changed my life. It got me fully immersed in punk rock, it made me grow a mohawk and it made me see that it didn’t really matter what anyone else though and that I shouldn’t give a fuck about what people I didn’t care about thought. It gave a 14 year old kid with little self confidence the power to basically give everything he didn’t care about the middle finger. Without this song and this album (and this band) surviving my teenage years would have been extremely difficult.
Everyone thinks they need to have a clever name for their sizes these days, and it’s because of Starbucks. If you live under a rock and, therefore, have never been to a Starbucks, let me tell you about them. You can order drinks in a “short”, “tall”, “grande” & “vente” sizes. Since “grande” means large in Italian, you’d think that is the largest size but you’d be wrong, it’s “vente”, which means twenty in Italian and gives you twenty ounces of delicious coffee. (I’ll admit, many of Starbucks’ blends are quite good.)
I am of the opinion that if you walk into a place and say “I’d like a large [whatever]” then they should give you the biggest size of whatever it is you’ve ordered. At Starbucks, however, if you order a large coffee, even if you do it in Italian by ordering a “grande”, you’ll get the second-to-largest size, which makes no sense.
So, you’re probably thinking, “Okay, Hogs, fine, Starbucks has weird sizes, whatever. People have been bitching about this for years.” And yeah, that’s true. I don’t go to Starbucks that often anymore, especially since I discovered that Caribou’s pumpkin spice coffee is better than theirs, so I don’t have to deal with their fucked up sizes very much. But Starbucks is so bloody popular that people try to order “grandes” and “ventes” in places thataren’t Starbucks,or there are other places that have weird sizes because Starbucks made it popular…which means that even when I’m ordering coffee at a normal establishment, the barista has to ask if, when I order a “large” if I really mean “large.” (I do, it turns out.)
Barista: “How can I help you?”
Hogs: “I’d like a large dark roast coffee, please.”
Barista: “Do you mean a grande?”
Hogs: “No, I do not. I mean the largest cup available filled with dark roast coffee, please.”
It shouldn’t be that difficult and I’m not going to play this game anymore. I’m going to call people on their bullshit because this is America, god dammit, and when I say “large”, I mean “large.”
This is your brain on (large) Hogs.
UPDATE: My friend Joseph, who wasn’t sure if he should comment here or on Facebook, where I posted a link to this entry, posted this, which I had never seen before and, which, I found amusing, so I post it here for your enjoyment.
My friendBlakewas chatting with me on Google chat and mentioned that she had to go to the grocery store. For some reason, this started me off writing this post. Sometimes it’s the weirdest things, I swear to Christ.
I love going to the grocery store. Even though I’ve been to the store a million times there’s always the hidden promise of discovering some weird, foreign food (like the “generic, Italian Nutella I once found at Dillons but have, subsequently, never found again.)
I’ll tell you why. For me, the grocery store is a new beginning. You go to the store when your sad fridge looks depressing and grey, your veggies are lonely and wilted (or rotted) the containers are empty, with the sad little bits of food in them because you wanted to justify putting them back in the fridge, rather than throwing them away. But I digress…
If your grocery store is like mine, the first thing you hit is the produce section. It is there that the promise of a full week or two of healthy eating takes shape in my mind. “If I buy a bunch of avocados, I can put them in everything and it’ll be really healthy,” I often think to myself, but it never really works out that way.
It’s carte blanche, really quite literally, you have an empty carte, er, cart. You can get whatever food you want, you’re no longer limited by what you have in your house. Any recipe is open to you. The grocery store is like a library. A library where you have to pay.
Even when I was poor(er), I enjoyed trying to make good, somewhat healthy meals out of what I could afford. I somehow found a way to take $0.39 mac & cheese, chicken breasts, etc. and make a pretty damn good meal. That’s just one example.
On a side note, when I originally founded this site, I had envisioned more random posts like this one, playlists from my radio shows and examples of food I cooked, like my friend Christa Rose over atLe Petit Briocheor Brian & Courtney over atNot That Anyone Cares,whose food and home improvement projects consistently put anything I might attempt to shame. I keep forgetting to take pics of the food I do manage to cook (mostly due to time constraints and the fact that I haven’t been cooking very much lately) but I think that’s about to change. I may be making gnocchi with friends soon and, those very same friends, invented something called a pretzel burger which I’m going to try my hand at soon. But I digress…again.
In addition to the attempts at healthy food, there’s another, more sinister, side to grocery shopping and this is the side my former roommate Thomas and I lived for: gluttony. We invented dishes like “Pasta Bianco Garbaggio” which is fake Italian for “White Trash Pasta” and consists of a box of generic mac & cheese, can of generic great northern beans, can of generic tuna and Tabasco® green jalapeño sauce…salt & pepper to taste…and is sort of an offshoot of “Wifebeataritos”, which aren’t, as you might suspect, a reference to wife beating but to the white a-shirts that many domestic abusers seem to wear, at least if all the episodes ofCopsI’ve ever watched are to be believed…so, I guess it indirectly relates to wife beating. My bad. Anyway, wifebeataritos consist of burrito-sized tortillas in which you put store-bought mac & cheese and store bought chicken strips. I’m not sure what Thomas put in his but I always add a littleSriracha Rooster sauceto mine. The main advantage of the PBG is that it’s cheap, the main disadvantages are that it takes time to cook and, therefore, also makes dirty dishes. The wifebeataritos, on the other hand, are more expensive but, as everything is pre-made, don’t require cooking time and, since they come in disposable containers, don’t create dishes (but they do create more trash.)
Now, I know these names aren’t exactly PC and don’t really help us fight the oppression that racism and classism add to our lives but, what can I say? They were coined at a less enlightened time in my life. I apologize if anyone is offended…actually, no I don’t. Fuck you if you can’t take a joke. Besides, I hate white people. Really.
Anyway, I love going to the grocery store and I love the open book possibilities such an experience provides. “What gastronomical masterpiece shall I make this evening?” is a question often asked in my head. Which reminds me…I need to go to the store.
I saw the desk where Tiny Desk Concerts are filmed.
This is better than all of those things.
All Songs Considered’s 24/7 music stream which is basically like what radio should be, but isn’t anymore.
Their recent show aboutmusic that got you through your teensinspired me to write a post I’ve been meaning to write for years, now. Stay tuned for that but, for now, if you’re not listening to 91.9, listen to All Songs Considered (or This American Life)…you goobs.